Anthony Joshua’s long wait to fight Tyson Fury could be EXTENDED if he beats Oleksandr Usyk in their rematch, with Robert Helenius set to be named mandatory challenger for the WBA world heavyweight title
- Anthony Joshua will take on Oleksandr Usyk once more early next year
- He has activated a rematch clause after losing his titles to the Ukrainian
- The winner was tipped to fight Tyson Fury next in an undisputed showdown
- Instead they could be made to defend their belts against Robert Helenius
Anthony Joshua could face a mandatory defence against Robert Helenius next should he overcome Oleksandr Usyk in their eagerly-anticipated rematch, according to the heavyweight contender’s manager.
Joshua fell to a one-sided unanimous decision defeat to the Ukrainian in front of a capacity crowd at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in September, with Usyk capturing the WBA, WBO and IBF titles.
Promoter Eddie Hearn has revealed Joshua has activated the contractually-agreed rematch clause and will have another crack at Usyk early next year.
All roads point towards a mouth-watering undisputed showdown against WBC champion Tyson Fury for the winner of the rematch, after the Gypsy King ended his long-term rivalry with Deontay Wilder with a conclusive 11th-round stoppage in their trilogy bout earlier in October.
However, there could be a further complication as mandatory defences come into play, with a 37-year-old Helenius potentially next in line after he won his WBA final eliminator bout against Adam Kownacki on the undercard of Fury’s win over Wilder.
Anthony Joshua will fight recent conqueror Oleksandr Usyk again early next year
Next in line for the winner could be Robert Helenius, following his victory over Adam Kownacki
Joshua took care of his IBF duties as he dispatched Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev in impressive style last December, while Usyk was the Brit’s WBO mandatory challenger.
The WBA are therefore next in line to enforce a world title defence, with Helenius set to be named the mandatory challenger.
Helenius has three defeats on his 34-fight record, notably to Dillian Whyte back in 2017, but his manager Markus Sundman believes the heavyweight giant is worthy of a world title shot.
‘Right now we are focused on the WBA mandatory position,’ Sundman told Sky Sports.
‘Robert fought a WBA elimination bout in March 2020 against Adam Kownacki, and he placed a stamp on that victory in the rematch on October 9.
‘Usyk should really be Robert’s next bout. There is no more deserving challenger in the WBA. (Mahmoud) Charr, (Trevor) Bryan, (Daniel) Dubois, are they more deserving? I think not.’
An undisputed showdown against Tyson Fury will be the target for the Joshua-Usyk winner
But Helenius, who lost to Dillian Whyte in 2017, could prove to be a spanner in the works
Though an undisputed bout will be next on the agenda for both the fighters and fans, Sundman insists they will battle for a world title opportunity,
‘Sometimes you have to dig your heels in the ground and fight for something important,’ he said. ‘And I can’t think of anything in sport more important than the heavyweight championship.
‘We will do what is necessary to assure Robert’s rightful position as Usyk’s next WBA mandatory.
‘In the end, of course we have respect for (president) Gilberto (Mendoza) and the WBA, and we think that ultimately they will do the correct thing and formally order Robert as the next mandatory.
‘The WBA mandatory is due next, and that must be Robert.’
Dillian Whyte will no longer be fighting Otto Wallin next weekend due to a shoulder injury
Meanwhile, the heavyweight landscape has shifted once more after Whyte’s October 30 bout against Otto Wallin was cancelled due to a shoulder injury sustained by the Brit.
The winner was tipped to be the next opponent for Fury, who is now struggling with a lack of options following his Wilder win.
‘I am devastated as I had a great camp, was in great shape, and had great sparring,’ Whyte told Sky Sports of the cancellation.
‘I was looking forward to knocking Wallin out and would have done so in the first half of the fight.
‘I am devastated about not being able to fight on October 30 but I want to thank everyone for all of their support.’